You never get a second chance to make a first impression” was the tagline for a Head & Shoulders shampoo ad campaign in the 1980s. (A couple of cringe-worthy examples are here and here.) This unfortunately encapsulates how most interviews work. Tricia Pricket and Neha Gada-Jain, two psychology students at the University of Toledo, collaborated with their professor Frank Berieri to report in a 2000 study that judgments made in the first 10 seconds of an interview could predict the outcome of the interview. They videotaped interviews, and then showed thinner and thinner “slices” of the tape to college students. For 9 of the 11 variables they tested -- like intelligence, ambition, and trustworthiness -- they found that observers made the same assessments as the interviewers. Even without meeting the candidates. Even when shown a clip as short as 10 seconds. Even with the sound turned off.
In other words, most of what we think is “interviewing” is actually the pursuit of confirmation bias. Most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds. “Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What is your greatest strength?” Worthless.